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While learning about solar panel systems, you’ll often hear the terms series and parallel when it comes to wiring batteries or solar panels together.
Let’s look at both parallel and series connections separately.
If you connect batteries or solar panels in parallel, it means that you connect all the positives together and all the negatives together.
In a parallel connection, the voltage does not change.
If you connect batteries or solar panels in a series, it means that you connect the positive side of the battery (or panel) to the negative side of another battery (or solar panel).
Parallel vs Series: Volts & Amps
When you connect batteries and solar panels together, you can change their voltage and the amp rating in various ways. (Don’t know what volts and amps are? Check out my easy-to-read posts where I explain volts and amps in the simplest way possible).
In a parallel connection, the voltage does not change but the amps will be added up.
For example, if you connect 4 solar panels in parallel and each provides 10 volts and 10 amps, you will end up with a total of 10 volts and 40 amps.
In a series connection, the amps do not change but the voltage will be added up.
For example, if you connect 4 solar panels in a series and each provides 10 volts and 10 amps, you will end up with a total of 40 volts and 10 amps.
Warning: Batteries Connected in Series
If you want to make a higher voltage battery bank by connecting batteries in series (for example, you want to turn your 12-volt batteries into a 48-volt battery bank), ensure that the lithium battery can be connected in series.
Some lithium batteries cannot be connected in series so make sure to check out the datasheet that comes with the batteries when you purchase them.
The number of batteries you can connect in series might also be limited (for example, you can only connect 4 of the lithium batteries in a series). This will also be in the batteries’ datasheet.